I could never be single. Or for that matter, social in a setting free of appointments and rules. Sitting in a Starbucks, thumbing through a used copy of Carr’s “What Is History?” I am reminded of this fact again and again while watching students mill in and yak to each other over Macbooks and organic breakfast salads. But I haven’t come here to people-watch or ogle. The last Starbucks I frequented had a successful suit against me for that. (Starbucks vs. Foodette, “Please let me touch your macchiato! I want mine super creamed!” Undisclosed out-of-court settlement.) So, at this location I remain, and am sipping the dregs of a drink best forgotten.
The new Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino takes a greasy, translucent page from the mystical tomes of Taco Bell, as it combines ingredients and concepts Starbucks has already introduced in a last-ditch attempt to catch on to the quicksilver salted caramel trend before it secedes to a greater force (Mocha. Frappuccino. Salted Caramel. Pretension.) and combines them into one drink. However much I love salted caramel, I really couldn’t get behind this flavor. It was the expensive equivalent of having a few odds and ends leftover in the fridge and mixing them together for a full, yet unpotable concoction.
If you’re not familiar with the grainy, wet texture of the Frap, which somehow manages to feel loose and semi-solid in the mouth all at once, nothing I can say will intrigue you enough to purchase it. It’s a Dairy Queen frozen hot chocolate in nicer packaging and an amicably flavored February slush storm, only more bitter and possibly colder. This particular flavor had 2/5ths of its namesake sitting dumbly on top of the drink, swirled on the surface and chilling into a semi-viscous caramel that tasted fairly average, lacking depth. Standard caramel topping with no burnt or buttery nuances. The kind you put on ice cream. The salt penetrated the deep waters of the drink, giving the bitter mocha an even more bitter, tangy flavor and losing all sweetness in the process.
The last tenth of the drink was different, albeit different in a hellish fashion. The caramel had finally seeped through and mixed in with the rest of the drink, the heavier, sauce-laden section separating the lighter, blended part into layers. All of a sudden, what was unpleasantly neutered in flavor was quickly radiating with sugar. The resulting texture was now slimy and gritty, and lacked any of the smoothness in flavor that I typically expect in a Frappuccino. And while I agree that any drink can be improved with a gut-busting squirt of whipped cream, any additional sugar would have made this virtually inedible. Seeing as I loved the coconut mocha, Frap, which tasted like a liquified Almond Joy, I was surprised that this flavor passed the test market. I’m not sure which candy bar this tastes like. Maybe partially masticated Bit-O-Honey marinated in a jar of lye. This flavor is awkward incarnate, in any case.